Saturday, May 7, 2016


In the evening of the first day of the week, upon which Jesus had risen from the dead--casting off the bonds of mortality in a brilliant flash of light that illumined the whole created order unto the very depths of Hades--"when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews," Jesus appeared unto them in His body of transfigured flesh.  They saw and believed... but St. Thomas was not with them.  This is the bare fact recorded in the Gospel, but one may be so bold as to ask, Where was he?  Why was he not cowering behind closed doors along with his fellow Apostles?

Today being Mother's Day, it occurs to me that he may have been visiting his mother.  In any case, it appears he was not quite so intimidated and fearful as were his companions.  Nor was he so readily inclined to believe the second-hand testimony regarding our Lord's appearance.  He demanded evidence--that he might see and feel for himself that Jesus had truly risen in the flesh. 

This circumstance occurred, of course, according to Divine Providence--that through Thomas' blessed unbelief, many thereafter might come to believe.  When Jesus appears again eight days later, Thomas is with them--and when our Lord graciously provides for him the evidence he demands, he proclaims with great joy, "My Lord and my God!"  It is true that Jesus mildly rebukes him: "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  Yet merely believing that Jesus is the eternal Son of God does not guarantee us a passport to heaven.  After all... even the demons believe, and tremble, while it is a well known fact that Satan himself can appear as an angel of light.  Perhaps St. Thomas' faith was less than perfect, but at least it was established upon a firm and unshakable foundation... and in the end, this apostle was vouchsafed a martyr's death preaching the Gospel to the demonically oppressed people of India.

As for feeble and lukewarm Christians such as ourselves, called to bear witness to the Truth in this faithless and perverse generation: we are enjoined to "taste and see that the Lord is good," to experience the presence of the Risen Lord not through the eyes of the soul alone, but also through the perception of our physical senses.  First and foremost, our faith is strengthened through partaking of the most precious Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist--but also through such manifestations of divine grace as myrrh-streaming icons, the Holy Fire in Jerusalem, and other miraculous events too numerous to mention--while the heavens themselves declare the glory of the Lord!

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